Help me stop gaslighting myself. I need to take better care of myself physically and emotionally, because invalidating my own problems is going nowhere.
posted by anonymous to human relations (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Female, early 20's, recent graduate, Canadian, lives alone, minimal support network, family lives outside the country, financially dependent on family
I have a tendency to blame my behaviour instead of addressing my health issues. My internal narrative of "suck it up, that's just how things are, normal people just deal with it" hampers my ability to prevent injuries and take better care of myself. It's a damper on my quality of life.
I avoid going to the doctor. I don't have a family doctor. I only go to walk-in clinics at the urging of friends, usually weeks after I've exhibited symptoms. I'm uncomfortable around doctors, but I'm still going to the doctor tomorrow because it's likely I'm fighting two separate recurring infections at the moment, and I've been experiencing symptoms for a month. I'd usually let it go, but it's seriously keeping me from fulfilling my obligations to others, which is why I'm going. I don't know how serious it is, but I'll find out tomorrow.
A non-medical recent example of this problem was when my fridge broke. It would stop working for a couple of hours each day, make funny sounds, and food rotted quicker. It made funny sounds for longer periods of time, but I didn't realize that it wasn't working properly, and I ended up eating vinegary food for a while. My brain dismissed the issue as "it's your fault that you're not cooking more often, you can't expect leftovers to taste great", "you leave food out too long", etc. I honestly didn't think about it at the time, until my family stayed with me for over a week, figured out the problem, and bought a new fridge. My parents were concerned that I didn't see the problem.
But it's not the fridge. I do that to my body too. Whenever I feel sickly, I blame myself for not exercising more, and try to sleep it off. I don't buy medicine either. I think my lack of initiative when it comes to medical professionals stems from how my family deals with illness. My mother hasn't seen a doctor in years and often self-medicates with herbal remedies. Or we try to get over illness by "working it off", I can't recall a day when my father took a day off from work, and I'm encouraged to "work it off" too or else I'm just being lazy/being overly dramatic. When I take days off school or work because I'm feeling ill, I feel guilty for being lazy, and for not diagnosing my problem to begin with so I feel illegitimately ill. It sounds bizarre when I type it, but this is really how I've dealt with my health my entire life, which is no why surprise why I'm so prone to being sickly. Looking back, I think so many of my ongoing pains are due to me not taking my symptoms seriously. Example, I took a long time to diagnose my whiplash and to get to a physiotherapist (who only saw me a few times and was expensive for my student budget) And now years later I'm paying with persistent back and neck pain, but my brain just keeps on telling me to suck it up, because other people have been through worse.
It sounds silly, but I'm really miserable. I want to have more days where I feel normal. I have social engagements, volunteer engagements, etc. but I can never commit fully because I feel held back. I'm very good at hiding it from others. I only go see friends when I'm having a normal day, but I'm often at home sleeping 12 hours a day, trying to sleep off another aggravating sinus infection, wondering why I have no energy and why it's I'm aching all over. But it's not like my symptoms are really serious, it's just like I've been living with a persistent cold for four years, but it's making me miserable. I've been able to be alone so much because of my class schedule (or I just skip classes), but I'm transitioning to the 9-5 workforce in a few months, and I'm really worried that this behaviour will hamper my work performance. I've had full-time work in the past, and I've called in sick an average of 3 days per month, and there was a period where I couldn't get to work for a week, but my employers forgave me because my performance improved much after that. But I really don't want to subject any future workplace to this BS behaviour of mine.
And I want to show my family that I can take care of myself, because when they see me being sickly, they think that I'm being immature and can't take care of myself that I must leave Canada and go back to my country of origin where they are living now. It's a topic that they constantly bring up, but they don't see it as forcing me back, they see it as "better opportunities", "being with family". I feel like it's a punishment because I'm inept at setting myself an adult in this country. But I don't want that, because I'm a citizen and I've lived here most of my life. So that's added stress too. My family may seem irrelevant, but they are relevant, especially when it comes to my emotional health and where my self-gaslighting originated from.
I guess the other reason why I don't know how to address my health problems is that I use sleep as an escape. If there's problems in any other parts of my life and I can't deal with the stress, I try to sleep it off too. So I'm not sure if I'm feeling sickly because I don't want to face my problems, or because I actually am sick. Best case scenario is that I get tested for allergies, and that explains my ongoing sickliness for the past several years. Worst case scenario is that it's just all my brain and I just have to overcome it behaviourally, but I don't know how. God. I just want to be a normal person in my 20's, I want to trust my self, I want to stop thinking that I'm crazy for experiencing pain, I want to function normally, I want to stop being so goddamn sickly, I want to take care of myself, and I don't want my family to cart me off to another country. Any advice is appreciated. Tough love is okay too (spoiled privileged student problems, maybe this is part catastrophizing, I know I know I know) but I need constructive tips on how to change my behaviour.